Australia’s biggest fish market has launched an online trading platform that will enable commercial fishers to become price setters.
- Australia’s largest fish market has launched an online trading platform
- The platform will allow fishers to educate customers directly on fishing methods
- The online system would provide greater certainty to fishers, allowing them to set their own price
The Sydney Fish Market’s SFMblue scheme will also mean fishers can trade directly to markets anywhere in Australia.
The market’s chief executive, Greg Dyer, said the traditional auction system would remain as the key trading system for about 400 different species worth up to $170 million a year.
“The auction has served a really great purpose over a long period of time, but it’s a bit of a blunt instrument that depends upon supply and demand equation on a daily basis,” Mr Dyer said.
The online system would provide greater certainty to fishers, allowing them to set a price to recover their costs, he said.
“Rather than being subject to a daily auction price, which of course could vary with the demand on display, they can market their product at a fixed price, which suits them,” he said.
Digital seafood market
Seafood provedore John Susman said the new scheme recognised that the market was moving towards more direct sales as buyers wanted to know the provenance of seafood.
“That’s the catch cry of the contemporary chef,” he said.
“Where’s it from? Who caught it and when was it caught? And wild seafood is just such a special resource that those points are really important in the whole conversation.”
The digital trading scheme comes at a time when more fishers are selling direct to restaurants.
Yamba-based Troy Billin is certified as a master fisherman by the not-for-profit marine conservation group Oceanwatch.
It means his customers can swipe a bar code and learn about the fishing methods he uses and a code of practice he follows based on sustainability and environmental stewardship.
“We go through training to make sure we’re aware of all the threatened, endangered species, catch return reporting, reporting interactions with threatened endangered species. So it gets that sort of picture back to the public that we are doing the right thing; we are responsible,” Mr Billin said.
Selling direct to customers
One of his customers is high-profile chef Neil Perry. At his Margaret restaurant in Sydney’s Double Bay, waiters know the background of Mr Billin and his catch, which is usually on the menu within 24 hours of being caught.
“We call out our fishermen on the menu,” Perry said.
“They’re our family. We don’t order fish off them. They tell us what they’ve caught. So it really is a relationship that not only we hold sacred, but more importantly, the customers do because they love to come here [and] eat wild-caught fish. [They] know it’s sustainable and [they] know that we have a relationship with each fisherman. We’re not just down buying any fish from the market we can get our hands on.”
The program manager of Oceanwatch’s master fisherman certification scheme, Michael Wooden, said about 180 fishers in New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia had earned the accreditation so far.
“A lot of it is about responsible best practice and understanding what’s expected of them,” Mr Wooden said.
“It’s a little bit about respect and social licence. It’s about engaging fishermen to understand what the rules and regulations are in the fishery, to adopt those and to understand what voluntary measures we might take on top of those.”
Oceanwatch is now expanding the scheme to the NSW oyster industry with about 80 growers recently completing workshops in best practice farming.
Watch this story on ABC TV’s Landline at 12:30pm on Sunday, or on ABC iview.